Perfect storm: Elections Division is in a tight spot with Ballot Measure 2, staff shortage, and national paper deficit

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With a special election that by law must be held within 60-90 days of the passing of Congressman Don Young, the Alaska Division of Elections has many challenges in the days ahead.

One of those challenges is finding enough people to work an election around the state at the same time fishing, tourism, and the summer economy flush with CARES Act and federal infrastructure spending in Alaska will have workers in high demand.

But there’s another problem: Governments around the country are having to place orders months in advance to get the paper needed for ballots and other voting-related material. It could throw an additional monkey wrench into the already complicated voting situation in Alaska in 2022, with the untimely death of Congressman Young, which has triggered two elections to be held in quick succession to choose a temporary replacement for him in Congress.

Supply chain problems are being blamed for the paper shortage, said Ford Bowers, President & CEO of the Printing United Alliance, who told Business Insider that it’s “not going to be resolved all on its own.”

“The supply chain is a huge issue right now,” said Dean Logan, the registrar of voters for Los Angeles County, the largest local elections jurisdiction in the country, according to Politico. “Just getting the paper supply and having that available for the printed materials for elections requires more of a lead time than we’ve ever seen before.”

In the Mat-Su Borough, the borough is struggling to get enough paper for its upcoming special election, sources say.

Texas limited the number of voter registration forms it was providing in January, in advance of the March primary, according to the Texas Tribune.

“The secretary of state’s office says it has been forced to limit the amount of forms it gives out to no more than 2,000 per request, which has affected groups that help people register to vote,” the newspaper reported.

Politico is reporting that local officials are calling for more funding from Congress to make sure they can meet their needs, and Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), the ranking member of the House Administration Committee, which has jurisdiction over voting issues, convened a roundtable on the “ballot paper supply shortage” on Friday with vendors, election officials and others.

The Dunleavy Administration is expected to announce on Monday when the special election will be for filling the seat of Congressman Young, who passed away on Friday. The 60-90 window for the special primary election is followed by a special general election in another 60+ days. Ballots for the special election must be printed at least 45 days before the election because, by statute, “Ballots are mailed to active Uniformed Service, Merchant Marines, Commissioned Corps members, spouses and dependents and U.S. citizens temporarily or permanently living overseas beginning 45 days prior to each Primary and General Election Day.”

Sources say Gov. Mike Dunleavy is convening a meeting of members of his team and Lt. Gov. Kevin Meyer today to try to figure out a path forward to avoid the train wreck that appears to be developing. Exacerbating the problem is that the new ranked choice voting law passed by voters means that it will take at least two weeks before the results of the special general election are known for the temporary replacement of Don Young, and that will occur at the same time as the regularly scheduled primary election in August.

The paper shortage and the constraints of Alaska statute may have created a perfect storm for the special election.

As reported by Politico, a township in Michigan placed an order for 72,000 ballot envelopes in January, but has yet to receive them. Usually that small of an order takes just two weeks.

“We were notified that [our printer] is only allowed to order paper twice a month,” said Mary Clark, the clerk of Delta Township. Politico reported that her order of 72,000 ballots took one quarter of the printer’s entire stock.

Meanwhile, the Division of Elections is currently holding a ranked choice voting exercise to come up with the 2022 version of the “I have voted” stickers that it produces. You can vote for your favorite stickers and practice your ranked choice voting skills.

The Division of Elections is also busy sending out new voter identification cards to all eligible voters in May. Voters are being asked to update their information at this link.

13 COMMENTS

  1. A contrived shortage of ballot paper to make it easier to force people to some kind of electronic (read: “easily manipulated”) voting? Surely we are not even thinking such a thing could happen!

    Or…..are we??????

    • Clearly I’m not the only one thinking this could be a shortage that MUST be addressed by EMERGENCY online voting with all the resultant illegitimate shenanigans that can be cooked up to sway the results.

      • This new abomination of a voting system is designed and built for shenanigans from the floor up. Any system that manipulates your vote and takes two weeks for a result is Florida chads all over.

  2. Declare a state of paper emergency. Then, do something smart. Then, beg forgiveness from the brilliant, smart eggsecutive Alaskans after later.

  3. The legislature is still in session and not much to do so perhaps they can work on the election laws and change the time lines.?? and certainly the process!!! seems like a great time to purge the voter rolls and clean them up so we do not have more voters than we have population in the State!!!!

    • Since garbage in equals garbage out and factoring in a ‘paper’ shortage, a nation wide food shortage might not be all bad….

  4. Seems like this kinda thing coulda been thought through a bit better by asking the question, “What happens when someone dies in office?” BEFORE the leftists wrote Ballot Measure 2. Wait…did I just use “leftists” and “thought through” in the same sentence?!? 🤷‍♂️ Silly me…🤦‍♂️

  5. Well! The low voter turn-out, it’ll be good here. We should be fine. There is enough for all those still voting. We don’t need electronic voting. There not enough people voting anyway. Just open up in person voting poll stations, there be enough ballots.

  6. Ok, I’m going to throw some leftist logic out there to use in our favor. Since we have no representation in congress, we also should have no taxation. Therefore, all taxes approved by congress are hereby suspended until representation has been dully sworn in.

Comments are closed.